05 Dec 2019

Andy Sullivan: The Smiling Assassin

Despite not winning a title on the European Tour since a trio of victories in 2015, you can always rely on Andy Sullivan to put a smile on your face with his mischievous sense of humour and contagious laugh on and off the course.

A ‘perma-grin’ that stretches ear to ear belies the struggle he’s had to find his ‘A’ game throughout 2019, but two top tens in his final three events of the season has left him champing at the bit to get started again.

“It’s been a tough year for me, I’ve not played as well as I would have liked,” says the 33 year old, who we caught up with at an Audemars Piguet event at The Els Club in Dubai last month. “I’ve not really been in the mix at any tournament which has been frustrating but I felt like I was finding something towards the end of the season.

“Mentally speaking, I’m starting to enjoy the game a bit more and the last few weeks I’ve been playing with a smile on my face. If I’m happy-go-lucky out there I usually play better. I’m a bit gutted the season came to an end when I was starting to find my game but I just need to try and stay in this state of mind over the next six weeks and not let the kids drive me mad!”

While the season hasn’t been up to Sullivan’s expectations, he did enjoy a tied second-place finish at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, finishing two shots adrift of eventual Race to Dubai champion Jon Rahm. The start to the year was a difficult one too with a change of personnel in Sullivan’s team with the departure of long-term caddie, Sean McDonagh. The duo had many successful outings on Tour, including conquering Q School together as well as reaching the heights of qualifying automatically for Team Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Breaking Point

“Sean and I split up at the end of last year because our relationship was getting to breaking point,” he says. “We’re really good friends and I was being a bit ‘difficult’ so we decided to call it a day. I’d rather keep him as a friend than lose him as one by being my caddie.

“I joined up with ‘Rids’ (Tom Ridley), who I’ve known for a long time, and I thought he would be the perfect fit. He’s stepped up and been really good. He’s a lot different to Sean in a lot of ways but has been brilliant on the bag this year and hopefully that can continue at the start of next season.”

Andy Sullivan partners Rory McIlroy during the opening session of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

Aside from turning up to the DP World Tour Championship with a new bag man for the first time in years, there was an even bigger omission from Sullivan’s entourage with his army of fans, the ‘Sulli Army’, nowhere to be seen or heard over the Earth course.

“No, they weren’t here this year,” he says. “I flew solo and it’s the best I’ve played for a while so I’ll probably be flying solo for a little longer! I’m slightly biased but the ‘Sulli Army’ are the best fans at the tournament. They’re very respectful and cheer on everyone when they hit a good shot. They definitely increase the beverage sales at the event!

“It’s great to have loads of different fans at tournaments supporting their favourite players because it brings such a great atmosphere and you can have some good fun and banter with them.”

Off the course, Sullivan’s reputation as a petrolhead is well known with the father of three owning an array of beautiful cars over the years. He was even spotted at Jumeirah Golf Estates taking some time away from the golf to enjoy a Formula 1 simulator. So, is his latest car as fast as the one Lewis Hamilton gets around in?

“I’m currently driving a minibus with all the kids I’ve got!” he laughs. “No, I’m driving a Range Rover SVR at the moment and I love it, it’s one of the best cars I’ve ever had. My dream car would have to be a Lamborghini Aventador or something like that, a proper pimp daddy motor, you could probably get away with driving that around in Dubai.”

With Sullivan set for six weeks off between now and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Presented by EGA, there’s no better time to get stuck into a new TV series in the shape of ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’. The reality show recently returned to screens in the UK for its 19th season but we’re yet to witness a golfer take on the iconic ‘Bushtucker Trials’ Down Under.

Former footballers, rugby players, cricketers and even darts players have all made the trip to New South Wales for the show and Andy’s likeable personality and wicked sense of humor would make him the ideal candidate to lead the way for golfers having a crack at the jungle.

“I’d definitely be up for it!” he smiles. “It would be a great craic. I’d probably take Matt Wallace in there with me just to see him squeal and moan at eating Kangaroo testicles or something like that! It would be a lot of fun.”

As one of the most likeable and popular guys on Tour among both players and fans, you wouldn’t bet against Sulli emerging as ‘King of the Jungle’ if he did make his reality TV debut on the show.

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